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High rent and rates force giftshop to close
THE owner of a popular giftshop in Knutsford has decided to close due to the rising rent and business rates.
Sara Hoodfar, 32, has owned Cherry Tree shop, the boutique giftshop located in the Cotton Shop courtyard just off King Street for five years.
Her lease for the property is up in November and she has decided not to renew.
She pays £22,000 in rent and just shy of £8,000 in business rates – but that amount doesn’t even include the collection of the bins.
Instead Sara has to negotiate a separate contract for that service.
She told the Guardian she had agonised about moving to another location but decided it was not worthwhile.
“You just don’t seem to get help from anyone,” she said.
“You’ve got the recession but then you’ve got places locally that are turning into bigger superstores where you can shop under one roof and we’re missing out here.
“There’s definitely not the same footfall that there used to be.”
Sara added she opened the shop at the start of the recession and believes it’s a ‘lot worse’ now.
“I’ve worked really hard to get my customers and I’m on King Street but being down these steps it stops half of the footfall,” she said.
“It’s only eight steps but it really does stop people from coming down.
“But my customers have been saying ‘please don’t go’ and I’ve looked at smaller properties and other towns but it’s just not feasible.”
Marco Dellapina, who founded business group Network Knutsford, told the Guardian that the town’s rental prices didn’t reflect the footfall.
“Since I have been here, even before the recession, I have seen shops opening and closing all the time because the footfall is not enough to cover the overheads, particularly the rent which is the main expense and the rates which are set high because of the high rent,” he said.
“It is not because they are bad businesses but because the overheads are excessive compared to the footfall.”
The gift shop is currently holding a closing down sale and for more information visit the store.
Clr Peter Mason, cabinet support member in charge of finance, said: “We are very disappointed to lose businesses from our high streets but these are tough times.
“Cheshire East has a strong business community and that is why the amount of business rates we collect, on behalf of the Government, is very high.
“Unfortunately, the current method of calculating what authorities should keep means that Cheshire East receives only 44 per cent of the amount collected – one of the lowest proportions in the country.
“The remainder is used by the Government to bolster authorities with less-thriving business communities.”
l What do you think?
Email james.wilson@guardiangrp or go to knutsfordguardian.co.uk to have your say about Knutsford’s town centre shops.